Steve Albini on “Piracy”

(from reddit, thanks to The 13th Tribe for heads up)

Fan:  What is your opinion about music Piracy? Does it hurt you economically?

Steve Albini:  I reject the term “piracy.” It’s people listening to music and sharing it with other people, and it’s good for musicians because it widens the audience for music. The record industry doesn’t like trading music because they see it as lost sales, but that’s nonsense. Sales have declined because physical discs are no longer the distribution medium for mass-appeal pop music, and expecting people to treat files as physical objects to be inventoried and bought individually is absurd.
The downtrend in sales has hurt the recording business, obviously, but not us specifically because we never relied on the mainstream record industry for our clientele. Bands are always going to want to record themselves, and there will always be a market among serious music fans for well-made record albums. I’ll point to the success of the Chicago label Numero Group as an example.
There won’t ever be a mass-market record industry again, and that’s fine with me because that industry didn’t operate for the benefit of the musicians or the audience, the only classes of people I care about.
Free distribution of music has created a huge growth in the audience for live music performance, where most bands spend most of their time and energy anyway. Ticket prices have risen to the point that even club-level touring bands can earn a middle-class income if they keep their shit together, and every band now has access to a world-wide audience at no cost of acquisition. That’s fantastic.
Additionally, places poorly-served by the old-school record business (small or isolate towns, third-world and non-english-speaking countries) now have access to everything instead of a small sampling of music controlled by a hidebound local industry. When my band toured Eastern Europe a couple of years ago we had full houses despite having sold literally no records in most of those countries. Thank you internets.

1 thought on “Steve Albini on “Piracy”

  1. Your band had full houses in Europe because you are Steve Albini. A “Local” band can’t get someone to pay a dollar for a 4 song demo, and getting more than a hundred people to a local show is almost impossible, because a facebook invite is not a handbill. People click “join” or “maybe” and then never think about it again. People get music for free all day long, and now that it’s been that way for around 10 years, it’s hard to get people to buy anything. They want it free. Shirts, cd’s, stickers, whatever. It’s impossible to sell a shirt for more than $10, even if that shirt cost you $8 to manufacture. So, I’d say, Fuck you, internets.

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